If giving tools, try to know what they do


December 18, 1993|By Gene Austin | Gene Austin,Knight-Ridder News Service

To help make tool giving and receiving more satisfying, this column includes a checklist of some of the tools I've found to be most useful.

Gift certificates from home centers or tool dealers are a good alternative too.

Following is a list of good gift tools, along with approximate prices of standard models. Basic hand tools, which many do-it-yourselfers already own, are not included.

* Miter/cutoff saw. A circular saw with its own mini-table that permits quick and accurate cutting of 2-by-4s and other lumber. Fine for building decks, room additions and other major projects. About $175.

* Folding workbench. These sturdy workbenches have a split top that also serves as a vise. The benches fold flat for easy storage or transport. About $100.

* Airless paint sprayer. For major outdoor projects, such as painting a fence or a lot of shutters. Brushes, rollers and pads are more convenient for small projects. About $75.

* Router. Makes fancy edges on wood, cuts grooves and joints. About $60.

* Shop vacuum. Makes it easy to clean up chips and mess and can be hooked up to some tools to reduce dust. Choose a "wet-dry" model that can also slurp up water. About $60.

* Portable circular saw. Not as accurate as a miter/cutoff saw, but a convenient and versatile tool that can cut all types of lumber including plywood. About $50.

* Belt sander. Smooths wood quickly and can remove old paint and varnish. About $50.

* Finishing sander. Lighter and easier to handle than a belt sander and suitable for fine sanding and finishing work. About $50.

* Bench grinder. Keeps a sharp edge on garden tools, lawn-mower blades, axes and similar tools. About $50.

* Drill. Many do-it-yourselfers already own some version of this tool, which drills holes, drives screws, sands, grinds and performs other jobs if equipped with the correct accessories. Two drills are not too many, since they can be set up to perform different jobs at the same time. Some newer models have interesting features such as keyless chucks, which permit hand tightening of bits rather than requiring a separate chuck key. Available in corded and cordless (rechargeable) models. About $40.

* Saber saw. A saw with a thin blade that cuts curves as well as straight lines; also called a jigsaw. About $40.

* Heat gun. A versatile tool that can remove paint, soften %J adhesives and thaw frozen locks, among other things. About $40.

* Socket-wrench set. Especially useful for those who enjoy tinkering with automobiles and machinery. About $25.

* Propane-torch soldering set. Most useful for plumbing projects, such as extending or repairing copper pipes. About $25.

* Cordless screwdriver. These battery-powered, rechargeable screwdrivers are great work savers. Most have a reversible bit that will handle either slot-type or Phillips (X-shaped recess) screws. About $25.

* Staple gun. Useful for installing insulation, ceiling tiles, carpeting, upholstery -- all types of tacking. About $20.

* Hot-melt glue gun. Handles all types of quick gluing jobs; indispensable for craft work. About $10.

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